Saturday, September 20, 2014
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Tigers take series opener against Royals

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[September 20, 2014]  KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Detroit Tigers demonstrated once again to the Kansas City Royals why they remain the class in the division.

Right-hander Justin Verlander pitched into the eighth inning and second baseman Ian Kinsler stroked three hits, including a home run, and drove in three runs as the Tigers routed the Royals 10-1 on Friday night to open a three-game series.

The Tigers continued their mastery of the Royals, winning 12 of 17 games this season. They also opened a 1 1/2-game over the Royals as they aim for their fourth straight American League Central title.

"Obviously, it's a huge series for us, but that's what I love about this team. We always seem to know the moment," Justin Verlander said.

The Royals have had few "moments" like this in decades, sans a playoff appearance in 29 years and important late September series with first place at stake.

Verlander (14-12) limited the Royals to one run and seven hits in 7 1/3 innings, striking out four and walking none. Verlander improved to 4-1 in his past six starts.

"He certainly seemed like he was up for this game," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "It was up there with one of the best games he's had all season."

The Detroit offense made it easy for Verlander, scoring early and often.

"There's no carryover," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "They whipped us, the beat us, they spanked us, whatever you want to say. We'll show up again tomorrow and be ready to play."

Kinsler led off the game with a single and scored in the three-run first inning. He contributed a RBI double in the fourth and hit a two-run homer in the fifth.

J.D. Martinez also had three hits and is batting .458 (22-for-48) against the Royals this season.

Every Tiger starter had at least one hit, with seven collecting mulit-hit games as Detroit bashed out 19 hits.

Second baseman Johnny Giavotella doubled in the eighth inning and scored on shortstop Jayson Nix's sacrifice fly for the Royals' only run. Neither started the game as Yost began emptying his bench after the Tigers led 10-0 after five innings.

The Tigers wasted little time silencing the sold-out Kauffman Stadium crowd, scoring three runs in the first inning and leading 10-0 after five innings.

"It's disappointing to the fans," losing pitcher Jason Vargas said. "They should be disappointed. They come out here to see play a competitive game and we didn't do that from pitch one. I'd be disappointed if I was them as well."

By the time Kinsler's two-run homer landed in the left-field seats in the Tigers' five-run fifth inning, many fans were heading for the exits.

Vargas was yanked after 3 1/3 innings, his shortest outing since April 20, 2013, while with the Angels.

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"I don't think I was getting frustrated, just that I wasn't getting people out," Vargas said. "Obviously, that is frustrating. Fact of matter is they were hitting good pitches and I was leaving pitches up in the zone. I just wasn't able to put us in the right direction."

The Tigers were 9-for-19 against Vargas, who threw 30 pitches in the first inning. In two starts this season against the Tigers at Kansas City, Vargas has yielded 20 hits and 12 runs in 8 1/3 innings.

The Tigers' three-run first inning included first baseman Miguel Cabrera's run-producing double and RBI singles by designated hitter Victor Martinez and shortstop Eugenio Suarez.

The five-run fifth came off right-handers Casey Coleman and Louis Coleman, both of whom spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha.

After that inning and with the game apparently out of reach, Yost pulled four of his starters -- left fielder Alex Gordon, second baseman Omar Infante, catcher Salvador Perez and center fielder Lorenzo Cain.

"We just went out there and we what we're capable of doing," said Tigers center fielder Torii Hunter, who had two hits, including an RBI double in the second inning.

NOTES: Tigers C Alex Avila remains sidelined with concussion-like symptoms after being tagged on the head Sunday. September call-up James McCann started behind the plate. ... The Royals brought up LHP Tim Collins from Triple-A Omaha, giving them an 11-man bullpen. Collins was 0-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 18 relief appearances with Kansas City earlier this season. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. He joins three other lefties in the bullpen -- Francisley Bueno, Scott Downs and rookie Brandon Finnegan. ... RHP James Shields, who starts Saturday, threw seven scoreless innings and allowed just two hits in beating the Tigers 3-0 on Sept. 10. The Tigers will counter with RHP Max Scherzer, the 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner who is third in the league with 237 strikeouts.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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